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Visiting the Borderless City: Traveling via the Internet
Unformatted Document Text:  history can be problematic. Often, history simply becomes an attractive thematic backdrop for a shopping center. This is the case for the many waterfront ports and city centers that have replaced industry with restaurants and boutiques. Transforming local traditions into a commodity is not the only way city’s can use history. They may also import the symbols of another city. Las Vegas has probably created the most sophisticated urban representations with its Paris and New York themed hotels. These hotels replicate on their interiors the cobblestone streets and little store fronts of an idyllic urban past. 7 The complaint against these simulations is not just that they turn the past into something that can be purchased with souvenirs but also that they erase or displace a more complex history. Thus, reconstructed seaports hide the slavery and genocide that were part of their history and the Las Vegas hotels do not acknowledge the violent class conflict that was central to the history of New York and Paris. 8 Hiding these aspects of the past creates a more pleasant atmosphere for consumers. A parallel logic lies behind the creation of what Dennis Judd (1999) calls ’tourist bubbles.’ Just as historic shopping districts attempt to hide disturbing elements of the past, tourist bubbles attempt to hide disturbing elements of the present. ’Where crime, poverty, and urban decay make parts of a city inhospitable to visitors, specialized areas are established as virtual tourist reservations. These become the public parts of town, leaving visitors shielded from and unaware of the private spaces where people live and work’ (36). Judd argues that one consequence of these bubbles might be to ’contribute to racial, ethnic, and class tensions’ (53) by segregating the affluent from those in surrounding communities. As Colin Hall (1994) points out, the expansion of these bubbles can also lead to residential displacement: ’The creation of a "desirable" middle-class environment invariably

Authors: Fotsch, Paul.
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history can be problematic. Often, history simply becomes an attractive thematic backdrop for a
shopping center. This is the case for the many waterfront ports and city centers that have
replaced industry with restaurants and boutiques.
Transforming local traditions into a commodity is not the only way city’s can use history.
They may also import the symbols of another city. Las Vegas has probably created the most
sophisticated urban representations with its Paris and New York themed hotels. These hotels
replicate on their interiors the cobblestone streets and little store fronts of an idyllic urban past.
7
The complaint against these simulations is not just that they turn the past into something
that can be purchased with souvenirs but also that they erase or displace a more complex history.
Thus, reconstructed seaports hide the slavery and genocide that were part of their history and the
Las Vegas hotels do not acknowledge the violent class conflict that was central to the history of
New York and Paris.
8
Hiding these aspects of the past creates a more pleasant atmosphere for
consumers.
A parallel logic lies behind the creation of what Dennis Judd (1999) calls ’tourist
bubbles.’ Just as historic shopping districts attempt to hide disturbing elements of the past,
tourist bubbles attempt to hide disturbing elements of the present. ’Where crime, poverty, and
urban decay make parts of a city inhospitable to visitors, specialized areas are established as
virtual tourist reservations. These become the public parts of town, leaving visitors shielded
from and unaware of the private spaces where people live and work’ (36). Judd argues that one
consequence of these bubbles might be to ’contribute to racial, ethnic, and class tensions’ (53) by
segregating the affluent from those in surrounding communities.
As Colin Hall (1994) points out, the expansion of these bubbles can also lead to
residential displacement: ’The creation of a "desirable" middle-class environment invariably


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